Bremen and Thomas Schaaf part ways
An era ended at Werder Bremen on Wednesday as the club parted ways with coach Thomas Schaaf after 14 years.
Schaaf, 52, who had been the longest current serving coach in the Bundesliga, will not sit on the bench this weekend for Bremen's final match of the season in Nuremberg. His assistants Wolfgang Rolff and Matthias Hoenerbach will combine to lead the team for the rest of the campaign and no successor has yet been named.
"In the past few days, we analysed our sporting development and came to the conclusion that we wanted to venture a new beginning," said Werder manager Thomas Eichin, who along with other club leaders met with Schaaf on Tuesday to announce their decision.
"We thank Thomas for everything he brought to Werder Bremen in more than 40 years of belonging to the club as a player and coach. The club celebrated excellent sporting success with him and he characterised Werder.
"After battling to avoid relegation, we were of the collective opinion that a consensual separation was the best for the planned new start."
Eichin, who took over as fulltime general manager in February, said the club leaders will take the "necessary seriousness and calm" in searching for a new coach.
"Of course I have some thoughts in mind but I will not disclose them here and today," said Eichin, who was very clear in saying Schaaf had not resigned.
"We solved it very, very professionally and harmoniously."
Schaaf guided Bremen to the 2004 Bundesliga-German Cup double and also won the 1999 and 2009 German Cups. He also brought Bremen to the cup finals in 2000 and 2010 and the Uefa Cup final in 2009.
"I had an extraordinary time here, connected with a lot of positive experiences and great successes. I would like to thank everyone who accompanied me along the way and supported me. I wish Werder Bremen a successful future," said Schaaf, who took over as Bremen coach in May 1999.
Schaaf had become a fixture with Bremen, leading them to Champions League berths six times and the Uefa Cup/Europa League four times. But the coach saw general manager Klaus Allofs leave Bremen for Wolfsburg last November after Allofs had joined Werder in 1999 as well.
Schaaf had said goodbye to his players by Wednesday morning.
"It's kind of a surprise to all of us. Certainly there was a lot of speculation. But when it's all said and done, it's kind of moving," said Bremen captain Clemens Fritz.
"It's clear that it's emotional. He worked here for 14 years, that's a long time. He did great work for Werder Bremen. We can all thank him."
Bremen have struggled recently, not qualifying for international football the last three seasons and only securing a spot in next season's Bundesliga in their penultimate match.
A Mannheim native, Schaaf was a Bremen lifer, having played with Bremen since 1972, joining the professional team in 1978 and playing for the Green-Whites until 1994. As a player, Schaaf won the 1988 and 1993 Bundesliga titles, 1991 and 1994 German Cups and the 1992 Uefa Cup Winners' Cup crown.
Schaaf had a contract with Bremen until 2014. Had he completed his deal, he would have broken the club record for most games coached, which is currently held by Otto Rehhagel, the Bremen coach from April 1981 to June 1995.